Readers share resourceful saving tips

Letters to Jill Cataldo

My frugal readers often share some of their favorite moneysaving and couponing tips with me, and I always enjoy hearing the ways they’re saving. Here are some interesting and perhaps unconventional ways people like you are being economical:

Dear Jill:

We have a chest freezer in the basement where I store meat that I’ve bought during sales. Last week my son unplugged the freezer to plug in some tools, then forgot to plug it back in! I didn’t discover that the power had been off for three days. By the time I lifted the lid, all of the meats were thawing out.

Pulled porkI couldn’t bear the thought of throwing all that meat away; so much money lost! I immediately started cooking. I borrowed slow cookers from my neighbors and lined them up on the counter. Beef and pork roasts went in. Thawed chickens went in the oven to bake. All this happened over a weekend, and I was exhausted once it was done.

When it was done, I refroze all of the cooked meats for future meals. Pork roasts were shredded for pulled pork later. Cooked chickens were deboned and the meat frozen for tacos and casseroles. I even grilled steaks that weekend and we ate those that night. I was able to save the meat.

If anyone else ever has a power outage like this, gauge whether or not your frozen foods can be saved. One of my neighbors was so surprised at my idea to just start cooking it all. Now the freezer plug has a red ribbon tied to it that says ‘Do not unplug!’

Nona D.

Dear Jill:

After the Sunday paper was delivered one week, I walked my neighborhood and taped slips of paper onto the neighbors’ newspaper delivery bags showing a picture of my house with my address and a note reading, ‘Any time you don’t clip your Sunday coupons, or if you have leftover coupons after you’ve done your clipping, I would love it if you would give the coupons to me. I will use them to get deals to enable me to save money and to share with local food pantries, new moms and elderly friends. Just put the coupons back in the bag your paper was delivered in, tie a knot in the bag and toss them in my driveway. Thank you for considering my request and have a blessed day.’

The response has been amazing! Depending on your readers’ neighborhoods, this might be an option for them to consider.

Margaret K.

Hey Jill:

Here is a money-saver we use at home. You know when your condiment squeeze containers get to the end (mustard, for example) a lot is still stuck inside. So pour a little vinegar or water in and shake to dissolve it! Works with other stuff too, like tomato sauce cans.

Ed G.

Dear Jill:

I splurge on a face cream that comes in a pump bottle. When the pump no longer brings the cream up, I can tell there’s still some in there. I pay about $15 a bottle for this so I don’t want to waste a drop!

I saw a tiny spatula called the ‘Spatty’ that is designed just for getting the last bits of things out of tiny bottles like my face cream. I suppose one could use it for foods, too. Now I know when I throw the bottle away, it’s really empty.

Amy T.

Dear Jill:

We still like to send postcards when we’re traveling, but the prices of these aren’t what they used to be. We have learned that most hotels, resorts and even motels have free postcards at the front desk, usually with a photo of the resort’s features.

On a recent trip to Louisiana we even ate at some restaurants that had free postcards of the picturesque courtyards and other restaurant features. We collect these along the way both to send to family and as free souvenirs of where we’ve been.

Henry B.

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Jill Cataldo is a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, who never passes up a good deal. Learn more about Super-Couponing at her website, Email your own couponing victories and questions to [email protected].